Stand on the Cape Byron Headland, and you’ll be standing at the most easterly point in Australia. To the east, the Pacific Ocean stretches endlessly toward the horizon, and if you’re lucky, you might spot humpback whales making their annual migration.
Look to the north and south, and you’ll see Byron Bay’s best beaches stretching along the New South Wales coastline. You’ll see surfers riding world-famous waves like The Pass, paddle boarders and swimmers splashing around in the sea, and dive boats traveling out to marine reserves.
You’ll quickly realize why Byron Bay is one of the most popular coastal destinations in northern New South Wales, with beach scenes, a beach culture, and beach vibes to die for. Life here revolves around the ocean, but in the town itself, you’ll find buzzing distilleries and breweries, fantastic farmers’ markets, and a laid-back community that loves a good summer festival.
But don’t forget the Hinterland because, with Byron Bay as your base, you can explore the rainforest, mountains, waterfalls, and bush tracks of nearby Nightcap National Park and Mount Jerusalem National Park.
With so many great things to see and do, we won’t be surprised if you don’t know where to begin. That’s why we decided to compile our list of the absolute best things to do in Byron Bay for you. Keep to these fun and unique Byron Bay bucket list attractions, and there’s no doubt you’re going to have an incredible time exploring this beautiful part of Australia!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Byron Bay
1. Hike the Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
Byron Bay town is located next to Cape Byron, a prominent, dramatic, and stunning headland that reaches out into the Pacific Ocean. At the eastern edge of the headland, the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse stands guard over the cliffs, while close by, you can stand at the most easterly point in all of mainland Australia.
There’s no doubt, then, that Cape Byron is one of the top things to see in Byron Bay, and we know you’re going to love how almost all of the headland is protected as a nature reserve. The best way to experience this unique part of Byron Bay is to get out there on the walking trails, where you can soak up the views, the nature, and the northern New South Wales sunshine.
The Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk (also known as the Cape Byron Walking Track or the Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk) is a 2.5-mile-long loop that takes you to the best lookouts and sights on the headland. You can join the trail at several points, but the most popular start point is the Captain Cook Lookout which is located on Lighthouse Road, just a short walk from the town itself.
Follow the paved walking trail from here, and you’ll soon reach Fisherman’s Lookout. Keep heading east, and you’ll pass Wategos Beach and Little Wategos. Keep going, and you’ll meet the most easterly point in Australia. The trail then continues south, where you’ll meet the “Easterly Point Lookout,” a lookout offering views of where you were just standing!
The circular trail then begins to turn west, and you’ll see the Cape Byron Lighthouse before finishing back at Captain Cook Lookout, where you started.
2. Join an Aboriginal-led walking tour of Byron Bay
The Arakwal Bundjalung called this land home tens of thousands of years before Captain Cook sailed past Byron Bay in the late 18th century.
While colonialism marginalized and almost destroyed Aboriginal communities in New South Wales, their language, many of their traditions and beliefs, and their history live on in Byron Bay.
The best way to learn more about the Arakwal Bundjalung is to join a walking tour led by local members of the community.
You’ll explore the surrounding creeks, the cape, and the beaches, learning about bush food, Aboriginal history, beliefs, and so much more. This is one of the best things to do in Byron Bay, so make sure it’s at the top of your itinerary!
3. Take in the beach vibes at Main Beach
Byron Bay is all about the beaches, and there’s no better place to start your vacation than a visit to Main Beach. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to reach the most popular Byron Bay sightseeing attraction because Main Beach is just a few minutes’ walk away from the town center.
Main Beach is your cliché Aussie beach. And by that, we mean it’s beautiful (if a little busy in peak season!). Imagine a long and wide stretch of white sand fronting the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are sunbathers and parasols on the beach, and in the water, swimmers and surfers are braving the waves.
The beach is bounded to the southeast by the green headland of Cape Byron and to the northwest by Belongil Beach, which is an equally stunning stretch of white sand. You can take a swim, spend the day lazing in the sun, or learn how to surf at Main Beach.
As the “main beach” in Byron Bay, Main Beach is patrolled by lifeguards and features public facilities like showers and toilets. You can even make use of the picnic areas to throw a proper Aussie barbecue in the sunshine!
4. Escape to Belongil Beach
Main Beach isn’t the only beach in Byron Bay, and you’ll love how the surrounding coastline is studded with beautiful stretches of white sand that front the Pacific Ocean. One of the best beaches to escape to is Belongil Beach, which starts just past the seawall that marks the end of Main Beach.
Belongil Beach is every bit as stunning as Main Beach, but because it’s just that little bit further away from the town center, it’s always going to be that little bit quieter. Belongil Beach stretches for around a mile and a half northwest of Main Beach, ending at the mouth of the Belongil Creek as the creek meets the ocean.
You can enjoy all of your favorite beach activities at Belongil Beach, which is popular for swimming and surfing, as well as snorkeling. There’s a small wreck just off the coast, which adds to the swell. But be careful because lifeguards generally only patrol the southern part of the beach.
Belongil Beach is also home to many of Byron Bay’s best resorts and beachside bungalows, and this is one of the best places to stay if you’d love to be able to walk out of your hotel and straight into the ocean!
5. Soak up the sun and sand at Tallow Beach
If you look south from your vantage point at Cape Byron, you’ll see a long stretch of golden sand unraveling for miles along the coast. This is Tallow Beach, and we have to say it’s one of the best Byron Bay attractions!
Tallow Beach is one of the best beaches in Byron Bay, and with several miles of soft sand to enjoy, there’s always a quiet spot to find, even in peak season. Tallow Beach is a great place for swimming and surfing. However, be careful because it’s not always patrolled by lifeguards like Main Beach is.
If you’re visiting Tallow Beach in whale watching season (between May and October), then you may even be lucky enough to see a humpback passing along the coast. Why not bring your towel, a cool box full of drinks, and set up for the day on Tallow Beach to wait for the show?
6. Learn how to surf
If you’d love to learn how to surf, then Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most enduring surfing destinations. Byron Bay has been popular since surfing went mainstream here in the 1960s, and since then, the town has only gone from strength to strength in surfing circles.
That means that for beginners, there’s a heap of surf shops and surf schools ready to show you how to ride the waves and tackle the swells of the Pacific Ocean. Byron Bay has waves for almost all abilities, and so as you progress, you can start tackling larger and more challenging spots along the coast.
Novice surfers can pick up tips just by watching the experienced pros in Byron Bay. Head to The Pass, a world-famous wave, to see the best surfers in action. You can hone your skills at Clarkes Beach or Tallow Beach, and we know you’re going to love the après surf scene in the pubs in town!
7. Go diving or snorkeling at Julian Rocks
Byron Bay is a dream for snorkelers and divers, with the Pacific Ocean being home to a bright and colorful array of marine environments that are just begging to be explored. One of the best marine sites to visit during your stay in Byron Bay is Julian Rocks, a protected nature reserve that’s located around 2 miles off the coast.
The Julian Rocks Nguthungulli Nature Reserve, as the protected marine area is officially called, is part of the wider Cape Byron Marine Park and offers you the opportunity to explore the underwater world surrounding two prominent rocks in the Pacific Ocean.
The rocks are a beacon for marine life, and as this is a no-take zone, the diversity of species found here is incredible. Whether you’re diving or snorkeling, you’ll see both micro and macro marine life, including tiny nudibranchs among the rocks and leopard sharks swimming among the coral.
Julian Rocks are well known for their large sea turtle population, too, which you may see either on the surface or feeding off the coral below. If you’re here in whale watching season (roughly May until October), you may be lucky enough to see humpbacks on the boat ride over from Byron Bay!
8. Go whale and dolphin watching in Byron Bay
If you’ve always dreamed of seeing whales or dolphins in the wild, then you’re in the right place, because Byron Bay is one of the best destinations in New South Wales to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat! If you’re looking for activities to add to your Byron Bay bucket list, this is the perfect pick.
Byron Bay is well known for its humpback whale sightings, with large numbers of this enormous marine mammal migrating past the bay during the long whale watching season. Tens of thousands pass by the coast every year, with the first making their appearance in May and the last being spotted at the end of October. The largest numbers will be seen between June and September, when their migration is in full swing.
You can sometimes spot the whales from Cape Byron if the visibility is good, as the humpbacks like to hang around the warm waters of this rich feeding ground. To maximize your opportunities, though, you should join a whale watching tour led by local marine biologist guides – they’ll know where to find the humpbacks!
Byron Bay is also home to a resident population of dolphins, who number in the hundreds. You’ll see them year-round, as well as many other species of whale that often pass through during the migratory season.
9. Walk the boardwalk at the Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve
With its location in northern New South Wales, it should come as no surprise to you that Byron Bay has a hot and humid tropical climate. This means that the area is home to an array of unique and natural wetlands, including the Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve.
This protected area is known for its rich biodiversity, and a visit to the swamp certainly makes a change from the beaches that Byron Bay is best known for. There are no white sands here, but you will find yourself immersed in the rainforest, surrounded by indigenous flora and fauna, and for a moment, transported back in time to see what Byron Bay would have looked like before Europeans arrived.
The swamp holds an important place in the history of the Arakwal community, and the indigenous community continues to help manage the area today. The wetlands were an important source of resources (including food) for the local communities – again before the Europeans arrived.
There’s a short boardwalk that leads you through the Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve, allowing you to explore this wetland without getting stuck in the mud! The swamp is located on the edge of Byron Bay, and it’s easily walkable from the town center or from nearby Belongil Beach.
10. Eat and drink at the Byron Farmer’s Market
Every Thursday morning, from 7 am until 11 am, the Byron Farmer’s Market sets up shop at the Butler Street Reserve. Get here early for the best bites and freshest produce, and stock up on quality goods for the rest of your stay in Byron Bay!
The Byron Famer’s Market brings a taste of the countryside to town, with a wonderful selection of stallholders bringing in unique, homemade products from across the local region. Each of the stallholders goes through a vigorous vetting process undertaken by the market’s committee, ensuring that there’s a plethora of different and high-quality products available to buyers.
You’ll find avocados, blueberries, chilies, and mushrooms, all freshly picked in the nearby fields. You can order up a flat white from the coffee stall, then browse through stalls selling artisanal cheese, handmade pasta, and delectable tempeh. There are food trucks, oysters, dumplings, chorizo, sourdough, and gin for sale, and much, much more!
11. See the endangered ‘Littoral Rainforest’ of Broken Head Nature Reserve
You might think that Australia has rainforest in abundance, and while yes, some parts of the country are still covered in thick expanses of ancient rainforest, much more of this unique ecosystem has already been lost.
One specific type of rainforest that’s found itself endangered is an ecosystem known as the “Littoral Rainforest.” This type of rainforest is unusual in that it thrives in locations close to the ocean, resulting in an unusual array of flora and fauna specifically adapted for this extreme environment.
Unfortunately, this rainforest is in danger of extinction, but travel south from Byron Bay, and you can find a few rare hectares of Littoral Rainforest in the Broken Head Nature Reserve. Take a walk, take in the coastal scenes, and bask in the uniqueness of this rare habitat.
12. Go hiking in Mount Jerusalem National Park
Don’t forget the Hinterland when you visit Bryon Bay because some of the area’s best natural attractions are found in the inland national parks of northern New South Wales.
One of the best national parks to visit is Mount Jerusalem National Park, where you’ll have endless opportunities to escape the crowds even in peak season. You’ll find Mount Jerusalem National Park located less than an hour’s drive from Byron Bay, and it’s an excellent place for bushwalking and rainforest mountain biking.
There are several trails you can tackle, including Rayners Walking Track and the Gilwah Trail. You can walk or cycle along the bush tracks, with beautiful rainforest scenery and refreshing waterfalls to see on the way.
13. Be awed by the power of Minyon Falls
On the eastern edge of Nightcap National Park, less than a one-hour drive from Byron Bay into the Hinterland, you can find one of the most impressive waterfalls in northern New South Wales. If you’re looking for natural attractions, a visit to Minyon Falls is a must on your Byron Bay bucket list!
In fact, we’d go as far as to say that Minyon Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Australia, and you can’t visit Byron Bay without at least visiting the lookout. Minyon Falls plunge from a staggering height of 100 meters from tall cliffs into a deep gorge below.
The falls are at their most powerful at the end of the rainy season or at the start of the dry season, but all through the year, you’ll be awed by the rainforest scenery and dramatic, rocky surrounds.
The Minyon Falls Lookout offers the most expansive view of the waterfall and the gorge, but if you’re up for a hike, then you can follow the Minyon Falls Walking Track to the base. It’s not an easy hike, and at 8 miles long, the journey will take you around 4 hours there and back.
You’ll pass through dense rainforest along a steep walking track, but you’ll welcome a dip into the waterfall’s icy plunge pool when you reach the bottom of the gorge.
14. Join the partygoers at one of Byron Bay’s festivals
Byron Bay, with its creative atmosphere and chilled-out vibes, is one of Australia’s premier festival destinations.
The town’s most famous festival is the Byron Bay Bluesfest, which is held once a year over the long Easter weekend. The multi-day festival sees some of the world’s best jazz bands, as well as thousands of jazz fans descending upon the town.
If you’re in Byron Bay in July, then you’ll want tickets for Splendour in the Grass, a three-day-long music festival that features an impressive lineup of contemporary acts. This is one of Australia’s best music festivals, and you can expect to see anyone from the Arctic Monkeys to Mumford and Sons!
Byron Bay hosts many more festivals and cultural events throughout the year, including the Byron Bay Comedy Festival in June, Byron Writers Festival in August, and the Byron Bay Film Festival in October. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Byron Bay, be sure to check out what’s on during your visit!
15. Take a tour of Byron Bay’s best breweries and distilleries
If you love a local craft beer or a smooth gin, then you’ll find plenty of unique brews around Byron Bay. The town has a burgeoning craft beer and spirits scene, and we know you’re going to have a great time touring Byron Bay’s best breweries and distilleries!
You can start with a tour and a tasting at Byron Bay Brewery, one of the first breweries to set up shop in town. Byron Bay Brewery is best known for its Premium Lager, which we can vouch for on a hot summer’s day!
Next, head to Stone & Wood, a local brewery that creates handcrafted craft beers using locally sourced ingredients. You’ll love the classic Pacific Ale, but be sure to try all the fruity specialties they brew up in the on-site brewery. You can take a tour of the facilities to learn more, or just sit back in the beer garden and work your way through the beers.
If you’ve still got time, then you can head to the Cape Byron Distillery for a taste of unique gins distilled on a dairy farm. At Husk Distillers, you can sample the local gin and rum, and at Lord Byron Distillery, you can try artisanal gin handcrafted by a master distiller!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Byron Bay. What’s your favorite thing to do in Byron Bay?
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